Some Vaccine-Preventable Diseases Represent More Than Strictly Medical Challenge

Washington Post: The vaccine challenge isn’t just about getting shots
Editorial Board

“Ebola, measles, and polio can all be prevented with vaccines that provide high degrees of immunity. Yet outbreaks of all three rumble on in different places, causing illness and death. While the technology of vaccines can always be improved, serious setbacks in fighting these diseases have origins in something else: mistrust, misinformation, violence, poverty, and failing health systems. None of these are strictly biomedical factors, but all of them are making the health situation worse. … New data published [last] week by the WHO and UNICEF shows that global vaccination rates have flatlined at about 86 percent for three doses of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis and one dose of the measles vaccine. The WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, wrote in the Financial Times that 20 million children worldwide — more than 1 in 10 — are not getting the vaccines they need, not because their parents are spooked by social media but because they simply lack access to the vaccines. He pointed out that, for many children, the real culprits are not social media trolls but war, unstable governments, poverty, and weak health care systems. None of these diseases is any longer a strictly medical problem. These are challenges of war, mistrust, and misinformation, and those factors must be fought just as vigorously” (7/19).

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